A Recent Memo On ICT/Tech Classroom Design

NOTE CERTAIN NAMES HAVE BEEN REMOVED
MEMO: ICT Classroom Design
Author: Tony DePrato
Date: November 18, 2012

After reviewing a diagram sent to THE_SCHOOL on November 14, 2012 I had some serious concerns about the lack of review of the current ICT classroom design.

This design is the same design that was implemented at THE_SCHOOL between 2003-2005. In most of our rooms we have already replaced this due to its lack of modularity and overall usefulness in a collaborative environment. We do not wish to revert to a plan that is rigid and requires multiple sub-contractors to maintain.

THE_SCHOOL is pursuing a new design for ICT labs and classrooms that reflects a modular, cost-effective, low power consumption, and collaborative approach. These spaces are designed for BYOD initiatives and school provided wireless devices.

We do not wish to re-invest in technology that cannot be wireless, therefore the room and the furniture in the room need to reflect this policy.

Please note that the chairs, tables, and even whiteboard are easy to reconfigure.
The goal is to allow teachers and students to manipulate their space, with as few cables present as possible.

Using low power consumption wifi powered devices means power charging and work areas can be limited to certain areas against a single wall. Only 10 charging ports need to be available to support 30 BYOD or mobile device students.  We have been using this ratio for more than 2 years at THE_SCHOOL.

In addition the room should be planned with multiple small LCD based displays that can be used for students to present their work. A central large presentation area dedicated only to the teacher is not the mark of a collaborative learning environment.

Dr. Gary Stager, Co-Architect for the State of Maine 1-to-1 program has this to say about interactive boards, “They reinforce the dominance of the front of the room and teacher supremacy. At a time of enormous educational upheaval, technological change, and an increasing gulf between adults and children, it is a bad idea to purchase technology that facilitates the delivery of information and increases the physical distance between teacher and learner.”

It is not that the boards are bad, just that the concept of FRONT DOMINANCE is not good for a collaborative environment.

Even if desktops are use for the ICT classroom, these desktops should be wifi enabled. Examples would be the follow:

* * *
Acer Aspire Z5610 Dell One Apple iMac

Wifi enabled desktops should also be on modular tables with modular power. At THE_SCHOOL we have been able to cheaply alter our tables to allow for modular use with modular power.

If cabling must be on the floor, trunking should be avoided. Instead a RAISED FLOOR, similar to that in a proper server room, would be best. In the image below there is a raised floor. Using this design cabling can easily be adjusted and expanded without physically altering the room.

The final issue with the design is that the WIFI placement should be planned for density and not coverage. Meaning at any time assume 20 students could be in a single corner. This would mean each room needs ceiling based WIFI, and depending on the shape of the room, 2-3 WIFI units would be needed if they are the same model currently being used at THE_SCHOOL.

Considering most schools are looking at or switching to BYOD and mobile computing, it is critical that our ergonomics and environment reinforce these initiatives. Using a design from the late 1990s is not the best or most cost effective way to achieve this. Designs such as the ones mentioned here are not new. They can be seen in schools all over the US, Asia, and Europe.

Thank you,

Tony DePrato

Additional References:

A criticism of Interactive Whiteboards: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/02/gary-stager-finally-shares-why-he.html

State of Maine : http://www.maine.gov/mlti/index.shtml

All In One Desktop Reviews:  http://reviews.cnet.com/best-all-in-one-computers/

Modular Furniture by Hon: http://www.hon.com/pages/huddle.aspx


About Tony DePrato

about.me/tonydeprato
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